Monday, September 28, 2009

It’s a Sign; or, How to Judge A Book by Its Cover

The zombie book is moving somewhat slowly (as zombies will do), so I decided to lay it aside for the weekend and pick up the pace a bit with something else from my to be read pile. But how to decide? The pile was already monstrously big when ten more books appeared mysteriously, possibly added by the book-collecting ghouls that seem to haunt my house.

Now, I’m a little superstitious, Halloween is coming, and I’m trying really hard to complete the RIP IV challenge; unfortunately, in addition to my seasonal sense of foreboding, I’m also feeling a tad indecisive. I look for a sign to aid my choice: flickering lights when I open a book, an ominous bird flying overhead, maybe a 666 in the ISBN number.


If I were in a gothic novel, this is the point at which I might read a mysterious letter or ancient manuscript containing some clue or key piece of information. Then I remember: In Sixpence House, the author asserts that you actually can make certain judgments about books based on their covers. For example, when the cover of a book only has reviews of an author’s prior work, and not of the book itself, this is a very, very bad omen.

So it was that a chill passed over me as I examined the cover of Past Imperfect, by Julian Fellowes, author of the wonderful Snobs and screenwriter of one of my favorite films, Gosford Park. The back cover reads:

“Praise for Snobs

Cue ominous background music.

“I couldn’t put Snobs down.”

And so on.

No! I have been waiting for this book for months! Oh, the humanity!

It is probably for the best that I don’t live in the Castle of Otranto or Northanger Abbey or even Hogwarts School, but this also means there isn’t much chance that, within the confines of my suburban house, the words in this book will magically re-arrange themselves into a witty, elegant read. I’m sorry, Past Imperfect: I judged you by your cover, and found you wanting. Back to the library with you! Begone!

1 comment:

  1. LOL. I am the same way, in that once I finish one book it is an incredible challenge deciding which book to read next. There are alays at least 40 other books on my to read list. It's almost as unforgiving as my to-do list.....and my to-buy list.
    It makes sense though that if a single good remark could not be found for a story that they use good comments on previous books then it's probably not a good book.


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